The Rab GTPase RabG3b Positively Regulates Autophagy and Immunity-Associated Hypersensitive Cell Death in Arabidopsis
A central component of the plant defense response to pathogens is the hypersensitive response (HR), a form of programmed cell death (PCD). Rapid and localized induction of HR PCD ensures that pathogen invasion is prevented. Autophagy has been implicated in the regulation of HR cell death, but the functional relationship between autophagy and HR PCD and the regulation of these processes during the plant immune response remain controversial. Here, we show that a small GTP binding protein, RabG3b, plays a positive role in autophagy and promotes HR cell death in response to avirulent bacterial pathogens in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Transgenic plants overexpressing a constitutively active RabG3b (RabG3bCA) displayed accelerated, unrestricted HR PCD within a day of infection, in contrast to the autophagy-defective atg5-1 mutant, which gradually developed chlorotic cell death through uninfected sites over several days. Microscopic analyses showed the accumulation of autophagic structures during HR cell death in RabG3bCA cells. Our results suggest that RabG3b contributes to HR cell death via activation of autophagy, which plays a positive role in plant immunity-triggered HR PCD.